If you’re not using the train to travel around the United Kingdom, you’re missing out on an adventure of a lifetime. 

Cost, convenience, a chance to take in dramatic scenery while sipping a beer – there are tons of benefits when you rely on rail lines. The best part? Being able to purchase an e-ticket directly from your phone for most journeys and instantly hop on a train through England, Scotland, and beyond. 

Guide to Train Travel in Britain 

Just how extensive is the rail network in Great Britain? Compare your itinerary to the route maps and you’ll realize that you can use trains to conquer your British bucket list. 

  • Plan a weekend of soccer games (but make sure you properly refer to them as football matches) when you take a train from the pitches of Manchester United to Newcastle United.

  • See Abbey Road in London then hop the train to the Beatles Museum in Liverpool.

  • Have a magical journey through Scotland visiting Harry Potter filming locations in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and even ride the real Hogwarts Express, the Jacobite Steam Train.

Train travel between England and Scotland isn’t your only option – don’t forget that Wales will always welcome train travelers. Plan a day trip to Cardiff from London, explore the capital’s gothic castle, and check another country off of your list without ever needing to rent a car or sit on a cramped bus. 

Train Travel in the UK (And We Mean All of the UK)

Just as it’s a major party foul to say that Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, it’s just as important to highlight the fact that Northern Ireland is a U.K. country. While Northern Ireland doesn’t have an extensive rail network, nor can you access the country by train from Great Britain. But Trainline can get you to the ports in Great Britain that will sail you to Belfast, such as Liverpool, if you like to check “cross the Irish Sea” off of your travel to-do list.

Tips for First-Time Train Travelers

How do you travel by train for the first time? It’s easier than you think. 

We’ll admit that busy rail stations with multiple platforms can feel overwhelming, especially in large stations like London Waterloo or Glasgow Central Station. There are two things to remember:

  1. There are plenty of English-speaking station employees and passengers who will be happy to help you. Trust us, it’s common for many visitors to need assistance on their first train trip.

  2. You’re on vacation and trains are plentiful. Depending on your destination, you’ll likely have to wait minutes – not hours – if you miss a train. Take a deep breath and embrace every moment – even when your plans veer off track. 

Do I have to buy a ticket before I get on a train?

Yes. Similar to subways in the U.S., you must purchase a ticket prior to boarding or you risk a penalty fine and being kicked off the train at the next stop. 

What happens if I miss my train?

If you miss your train, you join the thousands of people each year who do the exact same thing. Go to the ticket counter at the train station and ask to change your ticket. Depending on the circumstances (such as if the train was missed due to another train’s delay), you might be able to change your ticket for free or you may have to pay a small fee for the change.

Which ticket should I purchase for train travel in the U.K.?

You’ll see a variety of ticket options, such as Standard Class and First Class tickets, as well as sleeper tickets, railcards, and more. Each has their pros and cons: for example, the London to Edinburgh Super Off-Peak Single ticket allows you to travel on any eligible super off-peak train for your selected day. 

The best ticket for you is the one that fits your budget, schedule, and needs. Let Trainline’s easy to use app act as your travel companion. Not only can you book train travel throughout the UK and Europe directly from your phone and avoid using the rather intimidating ticket machine, but you can also see live travel updates, pay in USD, and speak to customer service staff if any worries arise.